45 - The Value of Teamwork

دوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 45

Coursera – Learning How to Learn

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45 - The Value of Teamwork

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This is a CT scan.

If you look carefully, the shadowed region

right here

reveals the damage caused by right

hemisphere ischemic stroke.

Such a stroke can cause an unusual

condition

known as broad-perspective perceptual

disorder of the right hemisphere.

People with this disorder can still

function, but only partially.

They can retain their intelligence, even a

formidable way for solving

complex math problems, if that was a skill

they’d had before.

But an interesting anomaly, however, is if

they make

a mistake in their calculations,

concluding something nonsensical, such as

that a hot dog stand had a, a profit and

loss statement with a loss of nearly a

billion dollars.

It doesn’t bother them.

There’s no big picture, click, that says,

wait

a minute, that answer does not make sense.

Although we need to be careful about

faulty and superficial left brain, right

brain assumptions.

We also don’t want to throw the baby out

with the bath water, and ignore

worthwhile research that gives intriguing

hints about

differences between the two hemispheres of

the brain.

There’s a great deal of evidence from

research that the right hemisphere

helps us step back and put our work into

big picture perspective.

People with damage to the right hemisphere

are often unable to gain ah-ha, insights.

The right hemisphere, as it turns out, is

vitally important

in getting into the right track and doing

reality checks.

People with strokes can remind us of the

dangers of not

using our full cognitive abilities, which

involve many areas of our brain.

Even subtle avoidance of some of our

capabilities

can have a surprisingly negative impact on

our work.

In some sense, when you whiz through a

homework or test question and don’t go

back to

check your work, you’re acting a little

like a

person who’s refusing to use parts of your

brain.

You’re not stopping to take a mental

breath.

And then revisit what you’ve done with the

bigger

picture in mind to see whether it makes

sense.

As leading neuroscientist Vilayanur S

Ramachandran has

noted, the right hemisphere serves as a

sort of devil’s advocate to question the

status quo and look for global

inconsistencies.

While the left hemisphere instead tries to

cling tenaciously to the way things were.

This echos the pioneering work of

psychologist

Michael Gazzaniga who posited that the

left hemisphere

interprets the world for us and will go

to great lengths to keep those

interpretations unchanging.

When you work in the focus mode, it’s easy

to make minor mistakes in your assumptions

or calculations.

If you go off track early on, it doesn’t

matter if the rest of your work is

correct.

Your answer is still wrong.

Sometimes, it’s even laughably wrong.

The equivalent of calculating a

circumference of the

earth that’s only two and a half feet

around.

But these non-sensical results just don’t

matter to you because the more left

centered focus mode has associated with it

a desire to cling to what you’ve done.

That’s the problem with the focus,

sometimes

a bit left hemisphere leaning mode of

analysis.

It provides for an analytical and upbeat

approach, but abundant research evidence

suggests there’s a potential for rigidity,

dogmatism, and egocentricity.

When you’re absolutely certain that what

you’ve done on

a homework or test is fine, thank you very

much,

be aware that this feeling may be based on

overly confident perspectives arising in

part from the left hemisphere.

When you step back and recheck, you’re

allowing for more interaction between

the hemispheres, taking advantage of the

special perspectives and abilities of

each.

Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard

Feynman perhaps said it best when he

pointed out, the first principle is that

you must not fool yourself.

And you are the easiest person to fool.

One of the best ways to catch your blind

spots and errors is

to brainstorm and work with others who are

also smartly focused on the topic.

It’s sometimes just not enough to use more

of your own neural horsepower.

Both modes and hemispheres to analyze your

work.

After all, everyone has blind spots.

You’re naively upbeat focused mode can

still skip right over

errors, especially if you’re the one who

committed the original errors.

Worse yet, sometimes you can blindly

believe you’ve

got everything nailed down intellectually,

but you haven’t.

This is the kind of thing that can leave

you in

shock when you discover you’ve flunked the

test you thought you aced.

By making it a point to do some of your

studying with

friends, you can more easily catch where

your thinking has gone astray.

Friends and teammates can serve as sort

of ever questioning larger scale diffuse

mode

outside your brain that can catch what you

missed, or what you just can’t see.

And of course, explaining to friends helps

build your own understanding.

The importance of working with others

doesn’t just relate to learning.

It’s also important in career building.

A single small tip from a teammate to

take a course from the outstanding

Professor Passionate, or

to check out a new job opening, can

make an extraordinary difference in how

your life unfolds.

A word of warning, however.

Study groups can be powerfully effective

for learning, but if

study sessions turn into socializing

occasions, all bets are off.

Keep small talk to a minimum, get your

group on track.

And finish your work.

If you find that your group meetings start

five to 15 minutes late, members haven’t

read

the material, and the conversation

consistently veers off

topic, you’re best off to find another

group.

I’m Barbra Oakley, thanks for learning how

to learn.

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